[F] What made you pursue creating your own clothes during the 70’s?
[J] Because I couldn’t afford to buy clothes, basically! My mum sewed lots of clothes for us when we were little so she taught me how to sew. If I wanted a dress or trousers to go out in, she would help me fit the patten. By the late 70’s I’d make my own patterns, I’d copy things I already had that I liked the shape of and change them to whatever I wanted. Being able to buy simple patterns from the shops was a really big help, too, and meant I could keep up to date with fashion even when I couldn’t afford to buy clothes from a shop.
Can you describe one occasion where you were glad you could sew your own clothes?
When I was a teenager, I was very tall for my age. The problem is, when you’re 14, the boys haven’t had their growth spurts and I tended to be taller than most of them. At the time, long skirts were popular, and I used to make my own out of old curtains and things. That meant that when I was with a boy that was a bit short, I could walk with my knees bent mostly all the time and nobody could tell!
Can you give an example of a garment you made?
I’d always said I wanted to make my own wedding dress. The dress I made was like an Edwardian walking dress, as I really loved that style. It was made from an apricot colour cotton fabric which was Broderie Anglaise, and it had really expensive Guipure lace for the collar. I had little tiny lace fingerless gloves to match and a parasol too!
Fig 1. – Piper, Michael (1974) Portrait of E.Judith Piper [Accessed 09 December 2014]
Fig 2. – Lyons, Irene (1973) Family Portrait [Accessed 09 December 2014]
Fig 3 & 4. – Piper, E.Judith (1979) Wedding Photographs [Accessed 09 December 2014]